How to Use Messaging Apps to Engage Your Restaurant’s Customers

Today, restaurants can't survive without a mobile marketing strategy. Among thousands of different tactics, messaging apps offer unparalleled reach and success.

Deloitte claims 40 percent of frequent restaurant visitors prefer to order online. In the same study, online customers were willing to spend up to 26 percent more than those that dine-in. Another study found nine in ten customers prefer to message restaurants.

But message marketing is still new, so restaurants haven't been able to reap its potential. We'll explain how these messaging apps can help you run your restaurant better.

Benefits of Using Messaging Apps

Messaging apps have the power to transform your restaurant for the better. They help you gain a better understanding of your customers, so you can deliver what they want. 

You'll also take the load off your customer service department. And give them more time to come up with new ways to delight diners.

Here are a few benefits of using messaging apps:

All-In-One Guide

Modern diners like to do their research. They want details about your restaurant’s business hours, menu items, reservations, and more. Messaging apps can provide all this info.

Customer Database

Every user is either a past or potential customer. Messaging apps collect all this data: location, queries, past orders, and more. You can later use that information to re-market to the customer.

Push Notifications

Want to blast a new promo to your audience? Messaging apps lets you notify thousands of users in seconds. Best of all, it’s instant. There’s no need to wait for weeks to distribute flyers.

Brand Awareness

Not everyone will know who you are. When users sign up to receive text alerts, they’re reminded of your business each time. That can be useful for building a brand name.

Staff Organization

Messaging apps aren't only for customers. They can help remind staff of their upcoming shifts. Or they can send last-minute updates when someone has an emergency.

24/7 Convenience

Messaging apps run online. You don’t need to pay salaries or equipment costs. When your restaurant closes for the night, the system continues to service customers.

How to Use Messaging Apps for Your Restaurant

The first step to using messaging apps for your restaurant is choosing a platform to use. While you can use as many as you like, it may be best to start with one or two.

So what are your options?

First, try an SMS text messaging service. Text messages are still one of the most used channels for communication. Major companies like Chipotle use SMS to promote specials and offer coupons.

You can also set up automated responses in Facebook Messenger. The app now has 1.3 billion and monthly active users, and it’s growing fast.

Also, be sure to ask your loyal customers which platforms they prefer to use. Their answers may change based on their personal taste and location. Always make sure to cater to your most loyal customers because they can give you useful feedback.

Once you’ve selected a platform, you can use messaging apps to do the following things.

Make Reservations and Bookings Easier

Restaurants rely on reservations to manage the flow of customers. But reservations don’t always work out. Sometimes customers can cancel without warning. This can be costly for the restaurant as they may have had to reject or turn away potential customers.

Messaging apps cut the hassles in reservations. For one, customers can reserve a table in seconds. They don't need to sign up or stay on hold, they can do it straight from their phone. Restaurants can also send reminders to the customer when their reservation is ready. This reduces the risk of the no-shows and wasted reservations.

Consider an app like Waitlist Me. The app sends text and phone alerts when a table is available. Reserving a restaurant becomes a quick and painless experience.

Process Online Orders

That’s why modern restaurants adopt messaging apps. Online orders make the dining process more convenient. Customers may not want to sit inside the restaurant or they may want to enjoy the food from home.
For example, Domino’s Pizza has a Facebook chatbot customers can use to place an order. It works inside the Messenger app, which makes it a convenient option for diners.

Customers even have the option to check on the order. They can get updates on delivery without having to call the restaurant.

Promote Deals and Special Events

Coupons and specials are great promotions. But advertising them can be expensive. Messaging apps offer an alternative to print, but with an even greater reach.

With a single app, you can alert customers of a holiday special or a limited time menu item. Take local restaurant, Fiesta Mexicana, for example. They used a messenger app to promote their contest. It was delivered to 173 people. And 171 people, or 98.8 percent  ended up clicking the button to enter the contest.

Timing is crucial in promotions. That's why messaging apps allow you to schedule alerts by day and time. You can schedule alerts to go out at peak hours to enhance views. Messaging apps offer more control than any other traditional channel.

Deliver Better Customer Service

Owners may be reluctant to use messaging apps. Much of the experience hinges on real interactions after all. But in actuality,automated messages can enhance the experience.

 

Take the ordering process for example. Human interaction is subject to mistakes, misheard orders, and even arguments. With an automated system, customer service becomes a lot easier and efficient.

As with any restaurant, situations may arise. Customers may have a complaint with delivery, or decide to change the order at the last minute. Here, bots can process the request and resolve the issue without human intervention. Of course, you should monitor and respond to complaints.

 

At the end of the day, restaurants need to turn a profit to survive. You can do that by cutting costs or increasing revenue. With messaging apps, you can do both. You can reduce costs such as electricity, labor and printing. But you can also enhance your relationships with loyal customers.